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Portrait of John Mowbray, second Duke of Norfolk (1389-1432), after Wenceslaus Hollar

John Mowbray, second Duke of Norfolk (1389-1432)

JOHN MOWBRAY (V), second Duke of Norfolk (1389-1432), born in 1389, was the younger of the two sons of Thomas Mowbray (I), first Duke of Norfolk, by his second wife, Elizabeth, sister and coheiress of Thomas, Earl of Arundel. On the execution of his elder brother, Thomas Mowbray (II), in June 1405, John Mowbray became Earl-Marshal and fourth Earl of Nottingham, the ducal title having been withheld since the death of their father [1399].

In 1407 he was under the care of his great-aunt, the widow of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford (1341-1373), and mother-in-law of Henry IV. The latter, who was the youth's guardian, allowed her £2001 a year for his support, being double the provision made for him after his father's death.2 The king took him into his own custody in March 1410, but sixteen months later transferred him to that of the powerful Yorkshire neighbour of the Mowbrays, Ralph Nevill, first Earl of Westmorland, whom he had in 1399 invested for life with the office of Marshal of England, previously hereditary in the Mowbray family.3 Westmorland, who was systematically marrying his daughters to the heirs of other great houses, at once contracted the Earl-Marshal to Catherine, his eldest daughter by his second wife, Joan Beaufort, the king's half-sister. The marriage license bears date 13 Jan. 1412.4

Mowbray was not given livery of his lands until a fortnight before Henry's death [in 1413], two days after which he was summoned to Henry V's first parliament as Earl-Marshal.5 There is some reason to believe that his father-in-law then resigned the office of Marshal of England into his hands.6 When the king discovered the Earl of Cambridge's plot on the eve of his expedition to France in July 1415, the Earl-Marshal was the chief member of the judicial commission which investigated the conspiracy.7 He was one of the peers who subsequently (5 Aug.) passed final sentence upon Cambridge and Lord le Scrope.8 A few days later he crossed to France with the king, and took part in the siege of Harfleur at the head of fifty men-at-arms and 150 horse archers.9 But he was presently seized with illness, and was invalided home.10 The statement in Harleian MS. 782 that he was present at Agincourt must be wrong.11

Stall plate of the garter arms of John Mowbray (V), second Duke of Norfolk, 1421 From the summer of 1417, however, he was constantly in France. He took a prominent part in the siege of Caen in August 1417, and in that of Rouen twelve months later.12 At the beginning of 1419 the towns of Gournay and Neufchastel in Bray, between Dieppe and Beauvais, were placed in his charge.13 In April and May of the following year he and the Earl of Huntingdon were covering the siege of Fresnay le Vicomte in Maine by the Earl of Salisbury, and on 16 May routed the Dauphin's forces near Le Mans, slaying five thousand men, including a hundred Scots.14 The author of the 'Gesta'15 says he was present at the protracted siege of Melun, which began in July. It is doubtful whether he returned to England with the king in February 1421 and bore the second sceptre at Catherine's coronation.16 Henry had appointed him governor of Pontoise before his departure, and he witnessed a document at Rouen in the middle of April.17 Shortly after (3 May) he was given the Garter vacated by the death of Sir John Grey.18

The Earl-Marshal was present in the council which decided on 5 Nov. 1422 that the Duke of Gloucester should conduct the first parliament of Henry VI as Royal Commissioner, and not as Regent, and on 9 Dec. he was nominated one of the five earls in the new council appointed to carry on the government with the Protector.19 In May 1423 he and Lord Willoughby took reinforcements to France, and, after perhaps sharing in the victory of Cravant (30 July), he assisted the Burgundian commander, John of Luxemburg, in expelling the French from the districts of Laon and Guise.20 With only six hundred English he scattered the Count of Toulouse's force, and, driving part of them into the fortress of La Follye, captured and destroyed it.21

In November 1424 Mowbray joined Gloucester in his impolitic invasion of Hainault, and in the last days of the year ravaged Brabant up to the walls of Brussels.22 He returned with Gloucester to England in time for the parliament which met on 30 April 1424.23 Much of his attention was devoted to endeavours to secure a recognition of his precedence over the Earl of Warwick.24 After the proceedings had been protracted over several weeks, a compromise suggested by the Commons was accepted, by which parliament decided that the Earl-Marshal was by right Duke of Norfolk;25 on 14 July [1424], therefore, Mowbray did homage as Duke of Norfolk. On the death of his mother a week later (8 July) her rich jointure estates, mostly lying in Norfolk and Suffolk, reverted to him, and Framlingham Castle in the latter county became his chief seat.26

In March 1426, Norfolk, with eight other peers, undertook to arbitrate between Gloucester and Beaufort, and two years later (3 March 1428) helped to repel Gloucester's attempt to assert 'auctorite of governance of the lond.'27 On the night of 8 Nov. in this latter year he narrowly escaped drowning by the capsizing of his barge in passing under London Bridge.28 He officiated as Marshal of England at the coronation of Henry VI on 6 Nov. 1429, and with many other nobles accompanied him to France in the following April.29 The duke accompanied Duke Philip of Burgundy when he received the surrender of Gournay en Aronde, and distinguished himself during the summer in the capture of Dammartin and other places east of Paris.30

Norfolk was in London when Gloucester effected a change of ministers at the end of February 1432, and on 7 May he, with other peers, was warned not to bring a greater retinue than usual to the approaching parliament.31 He attended a council early in June, but died on 19 Oct. following at the ancient seat of his family at Epworth in the isle of Axholme, and was buried by his own direction in the neighbouring Cistercian priory which his father had founded. The alabaster tomb which Leland saw there may have been his.32

One will (20 May 1429), abstracted by Dugdale, contains an injunction that his father's ashes should be brought from Venice and laid beside his own. By his lost will, made on the day of his death, he left all his estates in the isle of Axholme and in Yorkshire, with the castles and honours of Bramber in Sussex and Gower in Wales, to his wife, Catherine Nevill, for her life.33 Dugdale adds a list of nearly thirty manors or portions of manors in Norfolk and six other counties which were also included in her jointure.34 But their only son, John Mowbray (VI), who succeeded his father as third Duke of Norfolk, only enjoyed a small part of his patrimony, because his mother survived him as well as two more husbands—viz. Thomas Strangeways, and John, viscount Beaumont (d. 1460). At the age, it is said, of nearly eighty she was moreover married by Edward IV to a youth of twenty, Sir John Wydeville, brother of the queen, a marriage which William Worcester denounces as a 'diabolic match'.35 She was still living in January 1478.36

A portrait of Norfolk is figured in Doyle's 'Official Baronage,' after an engraving by W. Hollar, from a window in St. Mary s Hall, Coventry.

1. £200 in 1407 was roughly equivalent in purchasing power to £127,000 in 2010.
    Source: Measuring Worth.
2. Ordinances of the Privy Council, i. 100; Wylie, Henry IV.
3. ib.
4. Testamenta Eboracensia, iii. 321.
5. Doyle, Official Baronage, ii. 528. 6. Gregory, Chronicle; Rot. Parl. iv. 270.
7. ib. iv. 65.
8. ib. p. 66.
9. Doyle.
10. Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, ii. 309.
11. Doyle.
12. Gesta Henrici V, ed. Williams, English Historical Society, pp. 124, 270; Paston Letters, i. 10;
     Historical Collections of a London Citizen, ed. Camden Soc, pp. 7, 23; Walsingham, ii. 322.
13. Doyle.
14. Walsingham, ii. 331; Elmham, Vita Henrici V, ed. Hearne, 1727, p. 244; Gesta Henrici V, pp. 133-4;
     R. Triger, Fresnay le Vicomte in Revue Historique du Maine, 1886, xix. 189.
15. Gesta Henrici V, p. 144.
16. Gregory, p. 139; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles, p. 57; but cf. Walsingham, ii. 336.
17. Doyle; Mémoires de la Société riles Antiquités de Normandie, 1858, vol. xxiii. pt. i. No. 1498.
18. Beltz, Memorials of the Garter, p. clviii.
19. Rotuli Parliamentorum, iv. 175; Ord. Privy Council, iii. 6, 16, iv. 101.
20. ib. pp. 87, 101; Wavrin, Chroniques d'Angleterre, pp. 33, 70-5.
21. ib.
22. Stevenson, Wars of the English in France, ii. 399, 409; Löher, Jakobäa von Bayern, ii. 154, 172.
23. Report on the Dignity of a Peer, iv. 861.
24. Rot. Parl. iv. 262-73; Ord. Privy Council, iii. 174.
25. Rot. Parl. iv. 274.
26. Dugdale, Baronage, i. 130; Paston Letters, i. 15-18.
27. Rot. Parl. iv. 297, 327.
28. Gregory; Will. Worc. p. 760.
29. Gregory, p. 168; Ramsay, Lancaster and York, i. 415; cf. Ord. Priry Council, iv. 36; Rot. Parl. v. 415.
30. Wavrin, pp. 373, 393; Monstrelet, Chronique, ed. Douet d'Arcq, iv. 398, 405; Chronicle of London, pp. 170-1.
31. Ord. Privy Council, iv. 113, vi. 349; Rymer's Foedera, x. 501.
32. Leland, Itinerary, i. 39.
33. Nichols, Royal Wills, p. 226.
34. Baronage, i. 131; cf. Rot. Parl. vi. 168.
35. Worcester, Annals, p. 783.
36. Rot. Parl. vi. 169.


Tait, James. "John Mowbray, second Duke of Norfolk."
The Dictionary of National Biography. Vol XIII. Sidney Lee, Ed.
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1909. 1118-9.

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William Herbert, 1. Earl of Pembroke
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Henry Howard, 1. Earl of Northampton
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Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland
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Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
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London in late 16th century
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
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c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London

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